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Confusion as man sitting on same plane as positive Covid-19 case receives conflicting information from health services

The partner of a man sitting in the same row as a person who today tested positive for Covid-19 says they’ve received conflicting information about whether to stay home and self-isolate.

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The partner of a man who sat near the infected person says they have received conflicting advice from the Ministry of Health. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after it was this afternoon revealed that a second Defence Force worker had contracted the illness. Today’s new case was a close contact of a Defence Force service person who had been working at Auckland’s Jet Park managed isolation facility, and had tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday afternoon.

NZDF headquarters Defence House, in Wellington, has been temporarily shut down today after six Defence Force staff were identified as close contacts of the second case, a civilian with work links to the NZDF.

“We have established there are six close contacts,” the NZDF’s Tony Davies said. “Those people are all isolated and we are awaiting test results for those people.”

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The civilian had met with the Jet Park staffer in Auckland on Wednesday, November 5, before flying home to Wellington.

The Ministry of Health has since asked anyone on flight Air New Zealand flight NZ 457, which left Auckland at 7.45pm, and was sitting in row 23 or two seats on either side in all directions, to be tested and self-isolate until November 19.

Alerts have also been sent out to travellers who may have been at several Auckland Airport restaurants and a car rental company, as well as a Wellington restaurant the following day.

However, the partner of one man sitting in row 23 told 1 NEWS they had this morning received conflicting information from the Health Ministry.

She said she was told her partner was a casual contact of today’s case but could continue working. But when the couple queried it with Healthline, they were told he was a close contact and to stay home and get tested.

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Leading epidemiologist Michael Baker said the spread reinforces the case for Covid-19 vigilance, even while the country is at Level 1, adding that masks offer protection from possible infection.

“There's some reason for concern because we know this virus can be transmitted on aircraft. One of the questions, of course, is whether the infected person was wearing a mask, for instance.”

Face masks are not required for people in aircraft under Alert Level 1.

Baker is reminding those living with workers in self-isolation to stay socially distanced and follow strict hygiene rules, such as handwashing.

Defence House's 1300 staff are currently working from home while the building is closed for deep cleaning.

“Starting in the areas that our positive case was in, as a priority, but then we will move throughout the rest of the building,” Davies said.